Rock climbing is a great physical challenge that many find much more invigorating than the gym. While it takes some training and practice, most gyms have intro classes and beginner walls available; so don’t feel discouraged if you’ve never been. Whether you’re a seasoned climber looking for some excitement on your next road trip or want to introduce your kids to a new physical activity, check out our picks for the best climbing walls in the U.S.
Best Space: Earth Treks – Rockville, Maryland
Earth Treks is the largest climbing gym in the U.S. as of 2013 with over 38,000 square feet of climbing walls. There’s something for all kinds of climbers with a large bouldering area, over 200 top-rope climbs, and a range of difficulties from shorter, kid-friendly walls to those that challenge you to defy gravity.
Best Design: Marymoor Park – Redmond, Washington
Stretching across 640 acres, there’s a lot to do at Marymoor Park, including trails, an amphitheater and a 40-acre off-leash dog park. One of the biggest draws to adventurers is its unique 35-foot outdoor rock wall. Please note that Marymoor does not have any equipment or footwear rentals available.
Best for Family: AZ on the Rocks – Scottsdale, Arizona
If you’ve ever been to Arizona, you probably know that for much of the year, anywhere with AC is best. AZ on the Rocks is the largest rock gym in Arizona, but it offers much more than the impressive 14,000 square feet of climbing walls; you can also join yoga classes, use the fitness equipment in the full gym, or send your kids to after school climbing classes and summer camps.
Best Value: La Casa Pollo – Fayetteville, Arkansas
With 16,000 square feet of climbing space, this gym is larger than the average, and with a daily rate of only $7 it’s much cheaper than many other gyms. What makes La Casa Pollo unique is that it houses indoor walls that connect to a soaring 75-foot outdoor tower. Plus, it’s the closest you’ll get to true rock climbing, with 3,000 holds made from natural rock.
Best Challenge: BaseCamp – Reno, Nevada
Opened in 2011, BaseCamp overtook the Netherlands when it created the world’s tallest rock wall at an imposing 164 feet. Aside from the adrenaline-inducing climb up the side of the Whitney Peak Hotel, inside you can find 15-foot-tall boulders, a kid’s climbing area, competition walls and 2,900 square feet of climbable space.